It is a truth universally acknowledged that if someone calls a woman crazy, further investigation is needed.
Reflexively calling women “crazy” is a habit men need to learn to break. As a term, crazy reinforces the long and nasty tradition of pathologizing female emotion. Crazy has been a gendered trait in western culture for thousands of years. Hysteria, after all, comes from the Greek word for uterus.
In a recent article published in The Washington Post dating coach Harris O’Malley says “it’s a form of gas-lighting — telling women that their feelings are just wrong, that they don’t have the right to feel the way that they do.” O’Malley goes on to speak about the effect this has on individuals who are referred to in this manner “minimizing somebody else’s feelings is a way of controlling them. If they no longer trust their own feelings and instincts, they come to rely on someone else to tell them how they’re supposed to feel.”
Our society has allowed us to make off-handed comments not realizing the effect that those words have. In truth I’m not sure that men fully understand what they are saying when they call a woman crazy, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t still consequences.
Calling a woman crazy is emotional manipulation in respects the woman, but it’s also ableist. O’Malley sums this up perfectly when he says “not only does it stigmatize people who have legitimate mental health issues, but it tells women that they don’t understand their own emotions, that their very real concerns and issues are secondary to men’s comfort. And it absolves men from having to take responsibility for how [men] make others feel.”